Scottish Government Progress against SVC Recommendations

When I started as Scottish Veterans Commissioner in September 2018, a fundamental question I wanted an answer to was the progress made by the Scottish Government against the 63 recommendations my predecessor, Eric Fraser made across his four key reports.

I requested a status report from the Scottish Government which I received in January 2019, and since then, my office has analysed it further and applied standard RAG (Red, Amber, Green) status reporting based on the facts supplied.  The RAG status is my assessment of how well we are doing set against the original recommendations. 

The report below outlines all of the recommendations and the RAG status applied to each of them based on the update provided by the Scottish Government. You can read the update for each recommendation by clicking the link in the column on the right. Alternatively, you can read through all of the updates here.

You can read more about the background of the reports and recommendations, our approach to analysing progress, and what I feel are the key achievements and challenges highlighted by the report, here.

Key
Implemented, but work should continue
Partially implemented/ ongoing
Not yet implemented

The recommendations are grouped by report, and you can go directly to the relevant section of the table here:

Veterans Health and Wellbeing – A Distinctive Scottish Approach

The Veterans Community – Employability, Skills and Learning

Housing for Service Leavers & Veterans in Scotland

Transition in Scotland

Recommendations from Veterans Health and Wellbeing - A Distinctive Scottish Approach, 2018

2019

1A Distinctive Scottish Approach to Veterans’ Health
The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should commit to establishing a distinctive Scottish Approach to Veterans’ Health at a strategic level, accept or adapt the guiding principles of this approach and work with their partners to embed it at an operational levelScottish Government Update
2Improving Collaboration and Partnership
The Scottish Government should reinvigorate senior participation in cross-border networks with a view to improved information sharing and increased involvement in collaborative working and initiatives. Scottish Government Update
3Leadership and Governance
The Armed Forces and Veterans Health Joint Group should refresh its membership and remit in order to provide the vital strategic leadership that will deliver the Scottish Approach to Veterans’ Health. Scottish Government Update
4National Managed Clinical Network
The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should establish a network on veterans’ health. The network will have oversight of delivering the Scottish Approach to Veterans’ Health, and will consider the key issues raised in this report and others it deems relevant. It should reflect current structures in the health and social care sector in its membership and approach.Scottish Government Update
5Mental Health Action Plan
The Scottish Government and NHS(S), through the network on veterans health (see recommendation 4), should produce a Mental Health Action Plan for the long-term delivery of services and support. Systemic issues of funding, collaboration, leadership, planning, governance and training of staff will be key.Scottish Government Update
6Drugs Misuse
The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should assess the scale and nature of drugs misuse – especially prescription and non-prescription painkillers – amongst the veterans community in Scotland and introduce remedial measures. This should be taken forward by the Joint Group and network, and included as part of the Mental Health Action Plan.Scottish Government Update
7Barriers to Accessing Services
The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should build on existing work aimed at reducing barriers to veterans accessing mental health services. This will include measures to address issues of stigma, seeking help, and improving awareness and understanding within the medical profession. This should be taken forward by the Joint Group and network, and included as part of the Mental Health Action Plan.Scottish Government Update
8Access to Life-long Services
The Scottish Government, NHS(S), Health Boards and local Councils should make a commitment to veterans with the most severe and enduring physical (and mental) conditions that they can access the highest quality health and social care services for life and as their needs change. Health and Social Care Partnerships and Integrated Joint Boards will be instrumental in planning the delivery of these services and the national network recommended in chapter 2 should assume responsibility for oversight of this work as an early priority.Scottish Government Update
9Funding for Multiple Injuries
The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should give consideration to whether the costs of specialist care for veterans who have suffered polytrauma should be funded through the National Services Division (NSD).Scottish Government Update
10The National Trauma Network
NHS(S) should include the specific needs of veterans who have suffered polytrauma as part of its work in setting up a national Trauma Network.Scottish Government Update
11Wheelchairs for Amputees
NHS(S) should adapt current arrangements to ensure an appropriate level of funding is available to guarantee that wheelchairs provided by the MOD for veterans with severe amputations can be serviced, maintained and replaced with the best possible equipment commensurate with that individual’s needs.Scottish Government Update
12Chronic Pain Management
The National Advisory Committee for Chronic Pain (NACCP) should consider veterans specifically as part of their work to improve chronic pain management in Scotland.Scottish Government Update
13Funding Hearing Aids
The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should make funding available so that veterans with the most severe hearing loss as a result of their military service can have access to the best possible hearing aids and support.Scottish Government Update
14The Invictus Games
The Scottish Government should work with partners, charities and others to scope a proposal to host a future Invictus Games in Scotland.Scottish Government Update
15Tackling Health Inequalities
The Scottish Government, NHS(S) and partners should identify veterans as a distinct group in their work to tackle health inequalities. In doing so they should produce proposals for preventing or mitigating inequalities as they apply to this group, with the ultimate aim of improving health outcomes for all.Scottish Government Update
16Identifying Veterans
The Armed Forces and Veterans Joint Health Group should oversee work to increase the number of veterans declaring their previous service to GPs and others in the system. This will likely involve NHS(S), MOD and veterans organisations.Scottish Government Update
17Using Information
The Armed Forces and Veterans Joint Health Group should oversee efforts to improve methods of recording, displaying and sharing information about veterans within the health and social care sector. This will be with a view to providing health professionals with the information needed to better understand and support veterans.Scottish Government Update
18Veterans Champions
The Scottish Government and Veterans Scotland should build on recent work to support the network of NHS and Council champions to develop the role so that it can continue to be effective in supporting the delivery of health and social care to veterans within the new health landscape of Scotland.Scottish Government Update

Recommendations from The Veterans Community – Employability, Skills and Learning, 2016

1Veterans Employability, Skills and Learning
The Scottish Government should establish a Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group of key partners to provide strategic leadership and to oversee the activity required to fulfil the ambitions of more, and better, employment opportunities for veterans, as articulated in this report and in Renewing Our Commitments.

The working group should include core participation from the Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Local Government representation, Ministry of Defence (MOD)/Career Transition Partnership (CTP), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and Veterans Scotland.

Scottish Government Update
2Scottish Veterans Fund
The Scottish Government should support proposals that promote employability and increase job opportunities amongst the veterans community as the priority when allocating resources from the Scottish Veterans Fund.Scottish Government Update
3Skills Gaps
The Scottish Government to review how the veterans community could be most effectively utilised to fill the known skills gaps in key sectors like education, health, IT, engineering, construction, finance and insurance. In doing so, it should consider whether its recent initiative to attract former oil and gas workers into teaching in the North East of Scotland should be replicated for the veterans community. This recommendation should be considered by the Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group (see Recommendation 1) as one of its early priorities.Scottish Government Update
4Regional Employability Pilot
The Scottish Government should initiate and co-ordinate a regional employability pilot project, based in an area where there is a high military and veteran population. The purpose should be to deliver an increased number of meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities for Service Leavers, veterans, and spouses and partners.Scottish Government Update
5Research & Evaluation
The Scottish Government should commission research to provide analysis of the current baseline of the employment situation for the veterans community and to evaluate the impact of national and local initiatives to improve job prospects.Scottish Government Update
6Work Placement
The Scottish Government should work with employers - both small and large - to find ways of offering more placements to Service Leavers, veterans, spouses and partners. This should be in addition to those offered by Career Transition Partnership.Scottish Government Update
7Improving Literacy and Numeracy
The Career Transition Partnership ( CTP), Local Authority community-based support services, colleges, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and charities should promote the benefits of improved literacy and numeracy skills amongst Service Leavers and veterans, directing them to appropriate community-based support, including the 'Big Plus' initiative. The aim should be to generate greater awareness amongst veterans with specific needs, their families and employers in order that learning opportunities can be accessed more readily.Scottish Government Update
8Recognition of Qualifications and Skills
The Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group (see Recommendation 1) should produce a plan for building understanding and recognition amongst Scottish employers (especially SMEs) of the skills and qualifications gained in the military. The Group should also consider whether the current system for translating and mapping qualifications could be simplified and how it might be better utilised and understood.Scottish Government Update
9CTP and SDS build on their existing relationship to avoid 'falling between the gaps'
The Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) should build on their existing relationship with the aim of ensuring Service Leavers and veterans have seamless access to SDS once their period of support from CTP comes to an end. This will be particularly important for Early Service Leavers and others in danger of ‘falling between the gaps’.Scottish Government Update
10Veterans Attending College
Colleges Scotland to work with their members to engage the veterans sector more closely in order to promote the benefits of, and opportunities to participate in, college education. Ultimately the outcome should be an increase in numbers from the veterans community taking up college places.Scottish Government Update
11Modern Apprenticeships
The Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland and Colleges Scotland should develop a plan to promote the Modern Apprenticeship programme to Early Service Leavers, veterans who would benefit from up-skilling or retraining, and spouses and partners.Scottish Government Update
12Sponsorship at College
The Scottish Government should work with employers to identify ways of supporting, and perhaps incentivising, sponsorship schemes that will allow a greater number of Service Leavers and veterans to undertake college studies in conjunction with full time employmentScottish Government Update
13Access Thresholds
In fulfilling the recommendations from the Commission on Widening Access, all universities should consider how access thresholds can be specifically applied to the veterans community. Subsequently, they should advertise and promote these thresholds widely across the military and veterans sectors.Scottish Government Update
14Articulation
The Scottish Funding Council, universities and colleges to specifically consider the veterans community as they embark on the expansion of articulation, as recommended by the Commission on Widening Access.Scottish Government Update
15Information about Colleges and Universities
The Scottish Funding Council should work with relevant organisations - including Universities Scotland, Colleges Scotland and Student Awards Agency Scotland - to produce material designed specifically for the veterans community. This should include information about finance and the support available for those enrolling at college or university. Subsequently, this material should be made available widely amongst the serving and veterans communities, and those like CTP and SDS who support them.Scottish Government Update
16Veterans Network/Champions in Colleges and Universities
Colleges Scotland and Universities Scotland should work with their members and Veterans Scotland to establish a network of champions across all colleges and universities. The champions can provide the first point of contact for members of the ex-Service community applying for, or undertaking, further and higher education. They should also consider offering mentoring, advice on applications and funding, and be part of the wider champions’ network in Scotland.Scottish Government Update
17Parliamentary Scrutiny of Veterans Issues
The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work should in due course report the progress made against implementing the recommendations in this report (and my two previous reports) to the Scottish Parliament. The aim should be to raise the profile of veterans issues amongst Parliamentarians and provide them with the information necessary to scrutinise the Scottish Government’s work in this field.Scottish Government Update
18Jobs within the Scottish Government
The Scottish Government to assess its current and future recruitment policies with a view to identifying opportunities to better target and support the veterans community in securing Scottish Government jobs. In doing so, it should consider Police Scotland’s approach of providing tailored information, personal support in completing applications, and advice in preparing for interviews. Mentoring from ex-Service personnel within the civil service is likely to play a crucial role.Scottish Government Update
19Jobs within NHS Scotland
NHS Scotland and individual Health Boards should develop and deliver commitments made at the last Armed Forces and Veterans Joint Group meeting to utilise the talents of the veterans community and provide better support and advice to those applying for jobs within the NHS.Scottish Government Update

Recommendations from Housing for Service Leavers & Veterans in Scotland, 2016

1MOD Advice & Briefings Relevant to Scotland
The Scottish Government should continue to work with the UK Government to ensure that advice and MOD briefings reflect housing policy and provision in Scotland, so Service Leavers choosing to settle in Scotland are not disadvantaged (also recommended in Transition in Scotland report).Scottish Government Update
2Proving a “local connection”
The requirement to prove a “local connection” needs far better explanation in MOD, Scottish Government and Local Authority publications, including leaflets and websites, targeted at housing providers, veterans and Service personnel.Scottish Government Update
3Routes into Social Housing
If Scotland is to become the destination of choice for Service Leavers, then the Scottish Government and housing providers should give consideration to smoothing their route into social housing. Particular attention should be given to and removing any potential disadvantage caused by a lack of “local connection” brought about by military Service, both for those serving in Scotland and elsewhere.Scottish Government Update
4Scottish Housing Guide for People Leaving the Armed Forces
The Scottish Government should consider wider distribution of the Scottish Housing Guide for People Leaving the Armed Forces and work with MOD, public sector organisations and charities in Scotland to raise its profile, ensuring it appears on all Scottish Local Authority websites and on relevant UK Government websites.Scottish Government Update
5Review and Improve Guide
The Scottish Government should review its Scottish Housing Guide for People Leaving the Armed Forces with the aim of improving content, visual impact and accessibility.Scottish Government Update
6Review Scottish Government Website Information
The Scottish Government should review the information provided on its website relating to housing targeted at Service Leavers, veterans and their families in order to improve accessibility and currency.Scottish Government Update
7Consolidation of Scottish Government Information
The Scottish Government should consider placing all information for veterans and Service Leavers (not just information on housing) in one area like the mygov.scot website.Scottish Government Update
8Local Authority Information
All Scottish Local Authorities should consider offering housing information for Service Leavers, veterans and their families on their websites with direct links from Housing home pages to improve accessibility.Scottish Government Update
9Guidance for Frontline Local Authority Staff
Local Authorities should consider providing additional guidance to their frontline staff on the principles of the Covenant and the council’s policy on housing support for veterans.Scottish Government Update
10Links Between Local Authorities and MOD
The Scottish Government should work with Local Authorities and MOD to improve information-sharing in order that those leaving the Services are aware of the opportunities available in Scotland and Local Authorities are given advance notice of those expressing a wish to live in their area (also recommended in Transition in Scotland report).Scottish Government Update
11Shelter Scotland and ASAP Citizens Advice Scotland
The Scottish Government and other housing information providers should consider taking a lead from Shelter Scotland and ASAP Citizens Advice Scotland when looking to upgrade their websites and generate a more extensive online presence, and should consider promoting these organisations’ websites more extensively.Scottish Government Update
12Wider Audience
The Scottish Government and Veterans Scotland should work together with partners, including the UK Government and other parts of the Third sector, to ensure that housing information is easily visible on the Veterans UK and other pan-UK websites in order to reach a wider audience.Scottish Government Update

Recommendations from Transition in Scotland, 2015

1MOD Advice & Briefings Relevant to Scotland
The Scottish Government should continue to work with the UK Government to ensure that online advice and briefings reflect housing policy and provision in Scotland, so that Service Leavers choosing to settle in Scotland are not disadvantaged.Scottish Government Update
2Information for Local Authorities
The Scottish Government and COSLA should engage with the UK Government to ensure that work on providing more information about resettlement destinations reflects the information needs of Scottish Local Authorities. Scottish Government Update
3Effective Devolved Services
The Scottish Government and its agencies should engage closely with the UK Government once the new Career Transition Partnership (CTP) programme is in place to ensure that devolved services can provide the full range of employability, skills and learning support to Service Leavers in Scotland.Scottish Government Update
4Extending "Opportunities for All' Programme
The Scottish Government should consider introducing flexibility to relax the age restrictions, extending the eligibility for criteria within ‘Opportunities for All’ for Early Service Leavers. Scottish Government Update
5Early Service Leaver Pilot Scheme
The Scottish Government and the Third Sector should consider piloting a Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) programme aimed at Early Service Leavers. Scottish Government Update
6Incentives for Employers
The Scottish Government, in partnership with Skills Development Scotland, Local Authorities and the Third Sector, should consider options to extend recruitment incentives so that they encourage employers to recruit Early Service Leavers.Scottish Government Update
7Employability Fund
The Scottish Government, Local Authorities and Skills Development Scotland should consider options for targeting the Employability Fund, and future employability services, at Service Leavers. Scottish Government Update
8Modern Apprenticeships
The Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland should consider actively promoting Modern Apprenticeships to Early Service Leavers and to their potential employers. Scottish Government Update
9Invest in Young People Groups
The Scottish Government should utilise Regional Invest in Young People Groups across Scotland to promote young Service Leavers amongst prospective employers. Scottish Government Update
10Youth Employment Initiatives
The Scottish Government, working with devolved partners and engaging with the UK Government and Armed Forces, should identify opportunities and consider options for marketing its youth employment initiatives to Early and young Service Leavers, which might include targeted presentations, tailored leaflets, accessible on-line information and wider campaigns to raise awareness of the support available.Scottish Government Update
11Engage with Employers
The Scottish Government should use its existing mechanisms for engaging with employers to promote the employment of, and work placements for, Service Leavers within its broader employability policy framework and delivery infrastructure. Scottish Government Update
12Personal Development Plan
The Scottish Government, its agencies and Scottish Local Authorities should work with the UK Government to ensure that the new Personal Development Plan and related course modules are relevant to those settling in Scotland. Scottish Government Update
13Access to Medical Records
The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland should retain the current procedures whereby GPs in Scotland retrieve Service Leavers’ medical records but also keep them under review. Scottish Government Update
14Veterans and Families Research Institute
The Scottish Government should engage with the Veterans and Families Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University to help identify evidence needs and ensure research into transition in Scotland is also included in future programmes. Scottish Government Update